Thursday, March 10, 2011

Last Few Get it Going

Colorado somehow stayed alive yesterday, roaring back against Iowa State in a game they trailed the entire way to make sure the Big 12 didn't lose every bubble team yesterday, because Nebraska and Baylor are now dead after their two losses to the Oklahoma schools.  The only other significant result from yesterday was Marquette's win over West Virginia, which moves them to lock status.  And congratulations to Northern Colorado, whose win in the Big Sky final over Montana puts them in the tournament and assures we get to keep saying NoCo for at least another week.  Also Long Island makes it in as well with a win over Robert Morris.  I bet Miles Tarver is thrilled.

For today:

BIG TEN:  If the Gophers hadn't pissed away this season I might be tempted to do a full on Big Ten Tournament preview.  Luckily I don't have to deal with that problem, and instead am just going to half-ass this one because we all know everything about the Big Ten already.
FAVORITE:  Ohio State.  Nation's best team.  
SLEEPER:   Michigan.  They might be playing as well as anybody in the conference that isn't Ohio State.
W's PICK:  Ohio State.  Even if they don't give it their full effort they're still that much better than everybody else in the conference.  It might be good for the rest of the league if William Buford manages to play himself into a first round draft pick and bolts.  Also I predict the Gophers lose to Northwestern by 20.
WHO'S DANCING:  Ohio State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois

ATLANTIC COAST:  The most bubblicious of all the conferences, Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Clemson are all fighting hard for bids, while Maryland might hit the bubble if they can swing it to make the championship game, and Florida State might be nervous if they lose their opener (if it's Georgia Tech)
FAVORITE:  North Carolina.  This assumes Kyrie Irving isn't back for Duke, but either way Carolina is suddenly legit.  The switch from Larry Drew to Kendall Marshall has done wonders for that offense, and I'm not sure Marshall shouldn't have been freshman of the year over Barnes.  Dangerous team in the tournament, serious Final Four potential.
SLEEPER:   Virginia Tech.  They have a hell of a one-two punch in Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen and they've shown the ability to hang with and beat great teams (beat Duke, took Purdue to overtime).  Unfortunately they've also shown the ability to get beat by crappy teams (swept by BC, lost to Georgia Tech) and that's why they're fighting for their bubble life.
W's PICK:  Duke.  Whereas UNC is streaking and Roy Williams has admitted he doesn't much care about the ACC Tournament, Duke needs to right the ship and Coach K is going to go after this one.  With little to really separate these two teams that could be the difference.
WHO'S DANCING:  Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson

SOUTHEASTERN:  Pretty sad what's happened to the SEC, once one of the top conferences in all the land which now been replaced in the top 6 by the Mountain West.  Even their "good" teams (Kentucky, Florida, Vandy, and Tennessee) are shaky enough that if there isn't a single SEC representative in the Sweet 16 it wouldn't be remotely surprising.
FAVORITE:  Florida.  The Gators have the #1 seed and best record in the conference, even though I think Kentucky is a slightly better team.  Their guards, specifically Kenny Boynton and Ervin Walker, are the kind that will give you fits in March.  They could carry this team on a nice run, but they're just as likely to shoot you out of a game.  Risky team to back, but then again you could say about most the SEC Tournament teams because Kentucky and Tennessee are all the same way.  Vanderbilt is probably the only remotely reliable squad.
SLEEPER:   Mississippi State.  A roster with Renardo Sidney, Dee Bost, Ravern Johnson, and Kodi Augustus on it is definitely talented, but chemistry, coaching, and off the court issues combined to make this a disappointing and NIT-bound season for the Bulldogs.  Unless of course they can put all that aside and win this tournament.  The talent is certainly there.
W's PICK:  Kentucky.  The SEC Tournament is just meaningful enough that a John Calipari team should do well and just meaningless enough so his team won't implode.  Unlike the NCAA Tournament where they'll lose their opener.  Sorry, but Brandon Knight isn't the guy who can carry at team in March.
WHO'S DANCING:  Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia

BIG WEST:  Dan Monson central.  He's certainly got this program moving in the right direction, and a conference record of 14-2 says they are the prohibitive favorite to win the autobid, but there are a couple of interesting teams who could rise up.
FAVORITE:  Long Beach.  They're the best team by a wide margin, no matter how you want to look at it and and they come in on a 9-game winning streak that includes a win over every other conference foe.
SLEEPER:   UC-Santa Barbara.  They've got two absolutely outstanding players in do-everything Orlando Johnson (who led the league in scoring at 20.2 and chipped in 6.6 rebs and 3.1 assists per) and fellow swingman James Nunnallly who was good for 17-6-2.  Two guys like that, who can do everything, handle the rock, shoot, and have good size can be a nightmare for an opponent.
W's PICK:  Long Beach.  They not only ran through the conference but did it with ease.  Plus having a Dan Monson led squad in the tournament and not the Gophers is the kind of cruelty the universe loves to visit upon me.

In today's action keep an eye on the SEC and ACC, as detailed above.  Georgia needs to get by Auburn, Boston College by Wake, and Virginia Tech by Georgia Tech.  There are a handful of other games that could have some affect on bids (Mich State vs. Iowa, Wash State vs. Washington, USC vs. Cal, Colorado vs. Kansas State) but those are the three where if the wrong team loses, their hope for an NCAA bid goes bye-bye.

1 comment:

Aar Man said...

and it's over...